(PNN archive image)
Israeli authorities reportedly banned the Muslim call to dawn prayer, from being projected over loudspeakers, in three different mosques in the Jerusalem district town of Abu Dis, on Friday, according to local sources.
Lawyer Bassam Bahr, head of a local committee in Abu Dis, said that Israeli forces raided the town just before the dawn prayer on Friday.
According to Bahr, Israeli forces raided the al-Rahman, al-Taybeh and al-Jamia mosques in the town, and informed the ‘muezzins’, the men responsible for the call to prayer — also known as the azan, which is broadcast five times a day from mosques — that the call for dawn prayer through the loudspeakers was banned.
Bahr added that the Israelis did not provide any reason for the ban, and also prevented locals living in the eastern part of the town from reaching the Salah al-Din mosque for dawn prayers.
Bahr condemned the “unjustified ban,” saying that “Israel attacks Palestinians in all aspects of their lives,” in the form of limiting free movement through the use of checkpoints, and through the disruption of daily life in the form of nightly detention raids.
The events in Abu Dis came a day after a number of Israeli settlers from illegal settlement of Pisgat Zeev protested in front of the house of Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barakat over the ‘noise pollution’ caused by the Muslim call to prayer.
A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality told Ma’an News Agency that Barkat, “in collaboration with the Jerusalem District police chief and local Muslim leadership, has developed a plan to protect the religious freedom of Muslim muezzin to announce the call to prayer, while ensuring reasonable quiet in Jerusalem’s residential areas.”
The spokesperson went on to add that the municipality guidelines would include “increased instructions for muezzin operators regarding technical guidelines for optimal playback and sound amplification, increased mapping of city mosques, and continuous dialogue with local Muslim leadership.”
Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian Authority (PA)-appointed governor of Jerusalem, said, at the time, that the call to prayer was one of the main Muslim religious rituals and an integral part of Jerusalem’s identity. He said that Israeli demands to lower the sound of the azan was a threat which had been issued several times before in Jerusalem.
Al-Husseini said that the sound of the azan doesn’t rise above an agreed-upon decibel level, adding that Israeli settlers were not annoyed by the noise, but by the call to prayer as a reminder of Palestinian presence in Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, Hatem Abd Al-Qader, a Fateh official in Charge of Jerusalem affairs, said that Israel aimed to provoke Muslims by attempting to ban the call to prayer.
Abd al-Qader said that the Israeli settlers’ protest against the azan came amid constant violations and raids of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem’s Old City, and demolition of Muslim graves in Jerusalem, which he said were part of a broader Israeli plan to destroy the Palestinian Muslim and Christian identities of Jerusalem and replace them with a Jewish one, turning the Israeli-Palestinian political conflict into a religious one.
Palestinian communities in annexed East Jerusalem — within the municipal boundaries and also beyond the wall in the occupied West Bank — and the larger Jerusalem district, have long been targeted by Israeli authorities in what has been denounced as a policy of “Judaization” of the holy city at the expense of other religious communities.
This “Judaization” has been characterized by the continuous expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements and a large-scale policy of demolition of Palestinian homes.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound has also been the stage of numerous tensions over the years, with Israeli forces imposing tight restrictions on Palestinian worshipers at the site.
Many Palestinians fear that right-wing Israelis are attempting to reclaim the holy site, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.